Canada’s 51 remaining staffed light stations, down from over 800 about 100 years ago, have been the subject of controversy for the last few decades. Canada’s Coast Guard has been on a long campaign to automate or decommission many of the country’s lights that aid mariners through passages and to shores along the coast. Two of these guardians stand watch over the section of coastline traversed by the West Coast Trail, the Pachena Light Station and the Carmanah Light Station.
The Carmanah Light, located about midway along the trail, is an old style lighthouse, built in 1891. From the forest trail, you have to hike out a little way to get there. If you are planning on carrying on along the beach trail, then access is through the station’s grounds and the down a steep walkway.
The light keepers tend to be solitary folk, so don’t expect to see them. But do look around at the results of years of this lifestyle on beautiful Carmanah Point. There is a garden labyrinth near one of the houses, and a whale skeleton laid out as part of the landscaping beside a sidewalk. The views off the point are incredible, reaching out for tens of kilometers on clear days. If your timing is right, you may be treated to a Coast Guard helicopter landing at the station to bring in people or supplies.
The Pachena Light Station is directly off the trail, near Pachena Bay. It is possible to visit this lighthouse as a day trip from the trail entrance at Pachena Bay, just out of Bamfield. The station is 10 km from the trailhead, so plan for a whole day of hiking to walk out, have lunch, take photos, and walk back.
The Pachena Light Station was built in 1906, also in the traditional lighthouse shape, after the devastating loss of a ship, the Valencia, near this point. The grounds of this station are more pastoral than at Carmanah. The Pachena light is atop a cliff that drops down to the sea, and this is obvious when going out to the actual lighthouse and looking down. However, you get the sense of a quietness when entering these grounds from the forest trail, contrasted to the sense of windswept exposure when leaving the forest and entering the station at Carmanah.
Both light stations have steel tower winch systems for transferring cargo off ships on to the land. For the most part these systems are idle. Those rare few who get to see the Coast Guard staff operating these winch systems get a rare treat. So much of both light stations is a testament to human engineering and endurance, and they are rarely seen in real action.
So if you plan to journey down the West Coast Trail, or just visit Pachena Bay at Bamfield, take the time to stop by and appreciate the light stations that work around the clock to keep all who travel the nearby waters safe.
CAMISETA DE PRIMERA EQUIPACIÓN LFC HOMBRE MANGA LARGA 19/20 CAMISETA DE PRIMERA EQUIPACIÓN LFC HOMBRE MANGA LARGA 19/20